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  1. Get in touch:
  2. Business groups call for Brexit clarity
  3. Merrill Lynch fined £35m by FCA
  4. Arqiva plans £6bn London float
  5. Pendragon shares slide on profit warning

Live Reporting

By Mary-Ann Russon

All times stated are UK

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That's it for tonight on Business Live.

We'll be back bright and early at 06:00 on Tuesday morning.

Do join us for all the latest breaking news and analysis from the business world.

US stocks retreat

The Dow Jones ended flat at 23,349.7, a 0.09% - or 21-point - rise. The S&P 500 fell 0.4%, or 10 points, to 2,564.98, and tech-heavy Nasdaq fell 3.79%, or 0.6 points, to 6,586.8.

Look out, Paypal

Pay With Google

Google is challenging Paypal with a new service called Pay With Google, that aims to make it easier for online shoppers to checkout on websites.

You might be used to using PayPal to pay for things online, so that you don't need to give merchants your financial details.

Google is doing the same thing - if you are using an Android phone or the Chrome web browser, Google will automatically send your billing information to the merchant.

The internet giant has already got 15 partners on launch, and will soon be adding well known brands like Just Eat, Hungryhouse, StubHub, Airbnb and Deliveroo to its service.

Is it just incompetence?

RBS Bank
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The author of a report in 2013 about RBS' global restructuring group says that the Financial Conduct Authority needs to do more.

"Banks do not treat their customers inappropriately, bankers do," said Lawrence Tomlinson.

"The authorities should look at whether these bankers' behaviour is incompetent or criminal - either way, whoever allowed the scandal at GRG to occur should not be allowed to work in the sector or enable similar ethos and culture to enter other banking institutions."

Oil prices steady

An oil rig
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Oil prices remained steady on Monday, supported by supply disruptions in Iraq denting exports, as well as US drilling rates dropping to their lowest since June.

Brent crude settled at $57.37 (£43.45) a barrel, down 38 cents, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude ended up 6 cents at $51.90 a barrel.

Human rights inquiry

Harvey Weinstein
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Prosecutors in New York are investigating the Weinstein Company, following allegations of sexual assault made against film producer Harvey Weinstein.

A subponea has been issued, seeking all documents, records and correspondence related to complaints of sexual harassment or discrimination from the studio, which is headquartered in New York City.

It also demands to know how complaints were handled and whether formal investigations were launched, and if not, why not.

"No New Yorker should be forced to walk into a workplace ruled by sexual intimidation, harassment, or fear," said New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman.

"If sexual harassment or discrimination is pervasive at a company, we want to know."

Netflix selling bonds

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Netflix is hoping to raise $1.6bn (£1.21bn) to fund investments into new original TV shows and movies by selling bonds.

The online entertainment streaming service will be needed to help fund a growing $7-8bn budget for new content in 2018.

Netflix saw stronger-than-expected subscriber growth in the third quarter.

The service operates on a model that requires Netflix to invest in content upfront in order to keep subscribers loyal, meaning that Netflix continues to have growing negative free cash outflows, according to the FT.

T-Mobile goes for video

T-Mobile CEO John Legere announces Q3 results in a video message
T-Mobile / YouTube

In a bid to avoid speculation about a possible merger with rival Sprint, T-Mobile US decided not to have its usual quarterly earnings call with investors, and instead put out a video message on YouTube.

"With all the rumours and speculation out there, we decided we wanted to make sure you all saw and focused on our Q3 results, and not just on the rumours and speculation that seem to fill the news every day," said chief executive John Legere.

The mobile operator reported record service revenues of $7.6bn (£5.76bn) and said that it was T-Mobile's "best Q3 ever".

T-Mobile also reported $10bn in revenues, up 8%, record net cash provided by operating activities of $2.4bn, up 36%, and record free cash flow of $921m, up 59%.

Toymakers under pressure

Toys in Toys R Us
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Hasbro shares have tumbled 9.4% after the toymaker projected lower sales growth than expected for the fourth quarter of 2017 - a key holiday shopping period.

Barbie doll maker Mattel's shares fell, down 2.7% to $15.53.

Both Hasbro and Mattel have been under pressure since Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy protection in the US and Canada in September.

Philips brushes up on China

philips sonicare

Strong demand for its electric toothbrushes in China helped Philips to boost sales by 4% to €4.1bn in the third quarter.

The Dutch firm, which spun off its lighting division last year to focus on medical devices and healthcare products, recorded double-digit growth in China.

That helped make up for flat sales in North America and a 6% slide in western Europe.

Chief executive Frans van Houten says: "We are very optimistic about our opportunities in China. Our toothbrushes continue to sell very well, while the growth of private hospitals diminishes the risk of government preferring domestic suppliers."

Etsy shares down

Handmade gift shop

One of the losers on the Nasdaq is Etsy, a popular online marketplace for handmade artisan goods.

Its shares have fallen nearly 4% to $15.74 each following the news that Amazon is launching the Handmade Gift Shop.

The Handmade Gift Shop aims to promote thousands of products by independent sellers and small businesses for the holiday season.

Wall Street wilts in afternoon trade

When Wall Street opened a few hours ago, the main indexes were all at fresh highs. But it's well into the afternoon now and some of the shine has come off the markets' performance. The Dow Jones is the only one still in positive territory, up just 0.04% on the day at 23,338.76. But the broader S&P 500 is down 0.06% at 2,573.54, while the tech-focused Nasdaq is 0.15% lower at 6,619.12.

Back to the (clean) future?

London Mayor Sadiq Khan wants the government to implement further measures to help those affected by the city's new traffic charge, known as the T-Charge and aimed at diesel and petrol vehicles registered before 2006.

He wants a new clean air act, similar to those implemented in 1956 and 1993, to improve air quality in London

From today, there is now a £10 daily fee for those who drive more polluting vehicles in the congestion charging zone, on top of the existing £11.50 congestion charge.

But the Clean Air London group says Mr Khan should ban all diesel vehicles.

Sadiq Khan on how to help people affected by the T-Charge

SocGen pauses Brexodus

SocGen sign
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Societe Generale will wait for more clarity on Brexit before deciding whether to move staff away from London, chief executive Frederic Oudea said.

The French bank has previously said it was considering moving 400 corporate and investment banking jobs to Paris ahead of the UK's departure from the EU.

The bank has 2,000 jobs in investment banking in London, Mr Oudea said earlier this year.

Seeking 'justice' from RBS

The GRG Action Group continues to call for the Financial Conduct Authority to publish its full report on RBS' treatment of small businesses.

The group, which represents more than 500 UK businesses, believes that the procedures set out by the bank for obtaining redress are "inadequate" and that the complaints process "fails to address the issue of consequential loss" facing many businesses.

"Far from drawing a line under this affair, today’s report is just the start of the long journey to justice for GRG’s victims," said the GRG Action Group.

"It remains our belief that publication of this summary report is insufficient.

"If anything, today’s findings solidify the case for having the FCA’s report published in full so that the bank’s misdemeanours can be properly scrutinised.”

BreakingLandmark fraud case

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A former HSBC banker has been found guilty of defrauding Cairn Energy in a $3.5bn currency trade in 2011.

US prosecutors said Mark Johnson, who was HSBC's head of global cash foreign exchange trading, schemed to ramp up the price of the sterling before executing a trade for Cairn.

His actions made millions for HSBC, at Cairn's expense.

Universal credit

An emergency debate on universal credit will take place tomorrow, the House of Commons has announced on Twitter.

Universal credit replaces six benefits and merges them into one payment. Currently, at least a quarter of claimants have to wait for a month and a half for the first payment.

View more on twitter

Kaspersky opens up antivirus

Eugene Kaspersky

Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab will allow third parties to analyse its antivirus software, in a bid to squash accusations that its software has been used to spy for the Kremlin.

"We want to show how we're completely open and transparent. We've nothing to hide," said company founder Eugene Kaspersky.

"Cybersecurity has no borders, but attempts to introduce national boundaries in cyberspace is counterproductive and must be stopped. We need to reestablish trust in relationships between companies, governments and citizens."

Kaspersky antivirus software has been banned by all US government agencies following accusations that nation state hackers used the software to steal information from the NSA.

FCA 'making excuses'

RBS Bank

RGL Management, which was formed for the purpose of suing RBS over its treatment of small businesses, says that the Financial Conduct Authority is not doing enough.

"The FCA is making excuses in its interim report as to why it cannot bring the bank to justice, which does nothing to help redress the devastation inflicted on business owners by RBS.

"If the FCA cannot, or will not, take action against the bank then it is important for distressed businesses and individuals to seek justice in the courts.

"RGL Management is the only group ready to do so, with expertise, funding and lawyers in place.”

London ends flat

London Stock Exchange
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The FTSE 100 has closed flat at 7,524.4 points - just 1.2 points higher, following a day of very little movement.

The biggest faller was Mediclinic after Spire Healthcare rejected its takeover bid, while GKN topped the risers, jumping 5.1%.

Meanwhile, the FTSE 250 fell 0.1% to 20,131.5, with Spire jumping 15.2%.

Bidding war

Amazon headquarters in Seattle

Amazon says it has received 238 proposals from cities in North America that wish to host the retail giant's second headquarters.

The bids come from 43 US states, as well as three Mexican states, seven Canadian provinces, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Amazon plans to invest $5bn (£3.8bn) and create 50,000 new jobs at the new headquarters, which will be a "full equal" to its Seattle base.

Labour calls for judge-led inquiry

RBS sign
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Bill Esterson, Labour's shadow business minister, has called for a judge-led enquiry into the treatment of small businesses by RBS.

“The news of a police investigation last week is also an important step in ensuring the truth is discovered as part of a full and transparent process," he says.

"Trust between small businesses and our financial institutions needs to be restored because their relationship is key to the success of the UK economy."

'Enron in the making'

Chris Johnston

Business reporter, BBC News

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal
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No bitcoin for Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, thanks very much.

The Saudi billionaire, who owns investment firm Kingdom Holding, was scathing about cryptocurrencies in a CNBC interview today: "I just don't believe in this bitcoin thing. I think it's going to implode one day - it's Enron in the making," he says.

"This thing does not make sense. It's unregulated. It's not under the control of the U.S. Federal Reserve or any other central bank."

Wall Street struggles

Wall Street
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US shares are now struggling after the S&P 500 opened at a new record high earlier, following a "perfect week".

The Dow Jones is at 23,349.7 points, up just 21 points or 0.1%, while the S&P is becalmed at 2,575.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq is the worst performer, down 0.2% at 6,616.19 points.

Deripaska prices EN+ shares

Oleg Deripaska
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Aluminium and power producer EN+ hopes to raise about $1.5bn (£1.1bn) with a London flotation that would mark one of the biggest Russian listings in Britain since the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

The company, which will remain majority owned by Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska (pictured), today set a price range of $14 to $17 a share, valuing the company at between $7bn and $8.5bn (£6.5bn).

The IPO is expected to measure investor appetite for Russian assets given that it will be one of the first major listings by a Russian firm since tensions between Moscow and the West started to sour following the annexation of the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine nearly three years ago.

EN+ last week appointed former UK energy minister Lord Barker as an independent chairman to its board.

Mr Deripaska also founded aluminium giant UC Rusal and is the biggest shareholder in Russian car maker GAZ Group.

Morgan responds to FCA report

Nicky Morgan, who chairs the Treasury select committee, says: “It has taken the FCA too long to publish its summary of the skilled persons’ report, so this is not before time.

“The Committee has put in place an arrangement to ensure maximum possible transparency is brought to this issue. When its independent adviser reports back later this week, the Committee will consider whether further steps are required.”

European Commission investigating German cars

car manufacturing
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The European Commission says it carried out inspections at the premises of several German car manufacturers today.

The EC is concerned the car manufacturers may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices.

This follows an inspection of one car manufacturer by the EC on Monday 16 October.

"Inspections are a preliminary step in investigations of suspected anti-competitive practices," said the EC.

"The fact that the Commission carries out inspections does not mean that the inspected companies are guilty of anti-competitive behaviour, nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself."

RBS chief: 'Report backs up worst allegations not upheld'

Ross McEwan, the chief executive of RBS has given a telephone press conference. Here are some highlights:

Emphasised that RBS believes this report backs up that the worst allegations have not been upheld

He apologised - in similar terms to the statement

On whether some of the staff are still there from the 2008 era: some have left and some are still within GRG

Said the FCA could take action against the bank or individuals - no idea on timeline for the focused investigation

Said will cooperate with Police Scotland - not had any contact yet

£115m of "complex fee" compensation offers have been made as of today

There are 938 complaints to be dealt with going back 10 years

Said RBS acting on these as "quickly as possible"

FCA RBS report - some highlights

The financial watchdog's report exonerated RBS on a number of counts:

  • RBS did not set out to artificially engineer a position to cause or facilitate the transfer of a customer to GRG;
  • SME customers transferred to GRG were exhibiting clear signs of financial difficulty;
  • there was not a widespread practice of identifying customers for transfer for inappropriate reasons, such as their potential value to GRG, rather than their level of distress;
  • there was not a widespread practice of requesting personal guarantees and/or cash injections when GRG had already determined that it had no intention of supporting such businesses;
  • there was not a widespread practice of RBS making requests for information from customers that were unnecessarily burdensome;

RBS says it has changed

RBS Bank

RBS' chief executive Ross McEwan says he is pleased that the Financial Conduct Authority report found that the most serious allegations made against the bank were not upheld.

“We have acknowledged for some time that mistakes were made and have apologised that we did not always provide the level of service and understanding we should have done for these customers in the aftermath of the financial crisis," he said.

“The regulator has again confirmed that the remediation steps we announced in November to address concerns for customers are appropriate. Any customer who feels they were treated inappropriately whilst in GRG should make use of the complaints process.

“The culture, structure and way RBS operates today have all changed fundamentally since the period under review. We have made significant changes to deal with the issues of the past, so that the bank can better support SME customers in financial difficulty whilst also protecting the bank’s capital.”

RBS share price

Shares in RBS were down 2.4p at 280p in the wake of the announcement from the FCA - above their lowest for the day.

RBS GRG - some background

RBS's Global Restructuring Group operated between 2005 and 2013 and at its peak handled 16,000 companies.

The unit would step in when businesses had missed a loan repayment, or had a notable dip in sales or profits, and was marketed as a turnaround specialist.

But the FCA report found that companies placed in the group had little chance of getting out of it. Only 10% returned to the main RBS bank intact.

At the end of 2014, 69% of firms were still in the successor to GRG.

RBS responds to FCA findings

RBS Bank
Getty Images

RBS says it welcomes the publication of the Financial Conduct Authority's report looking into the bank's treatment of small business customers referred to its global restructuring group.

The bank said it could have managed the transition to GRG better and should have better explained to customers any changes to the prices or complex fees it was charging.

As a result of the issues identified, RBS put in place a complaints process and an automatic refund of complex fees for small business customers who were clients of the bank between 2008-2013.

The bank says it has made over £115m in refund offers and that the complaints procedure has received 939 complaints to date.

FCA RBS report

A reminder: RBS's GRG - global restructuring group - was supposed to be a specialist division that helped struggling businesses get back on their feet.

FCA considers further action against RBS

Andrew Bailey, FCA chief executive, said: “Commercial lending activity is largely unregulated in the UK but given the seriousness of the allegations against RBS it was appropriate for us to look at their treatment of SME customers.

“As we reported in November 2016, while the most serious allegations were not upheld by the Skilled Person, the report did identify other concerns about the treatment of SME customers. RBS has accepted that it did not meet the standards it set for itself which impacted on how it treated some of its SME customers.

"RBS has since taken voluntary steps, such as its proactive review of complex fees, and setting up a complaints scheme for eligible SME customers, overseen by an independent monitor, Sir William Blackburne. Having considered documents and cases highlighted by the Skilled Person we agreed that RBS’s proposals, including to establish a complaints scheme, were appropriate steps.

“We are investigating the matters arising from the Skilled Person’s Report and are focussing on whether there is any basis for further action within our powers. We cannot comment any further on this."

BreakingFCA reviews RBS' treatment of businesses

RBS Bank

The Financial Conduct Authority has published a new report stating that while it does have some concerns over RBS' treatment of small business customers in trouble, the most serious allegations made against the bank were not upheld.

"RBS has accepted that it did not meet the standards it set for itself which impacted on how it treated some of its SME customers," said FCA's chief executive Andrew Bailey.

"RBS has since taken voluntary steps, such as its proactive review of complex fees, and setting up a complaints scheme for eligible SME customers, overseen by an independent monitor, Sir William Blackburne.

"Having considered documents and cases highlighted by the Skilled Person we agreed that RBS’s proposals, including to establish a complaints scheme, were appropriate steps."

Firms 'are making investment decisions'

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Suella Fernandes rejects the idea that companies are reluctant to make investment decisions until a Brexit transition deal is struck.

She tells The World at One: "We've had lots of business and investment decisions made since Brexit about the UK.

"Multi-national companies like Google and Facebook - Goldman Sachs as well - have all made significant business decisions to stay in the UK or expand their UK premises so I don't think its fair to say that businesses are facing uncertainty and they don't know what to do."

Businesses are looking forward Brexit, says Fernandes

The World at One

BBC Radio 4

British Transport Museum
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Suella Fernandes, chairman of the European Research Group of Conservative MPs, tells The World at One that she would "question the CBI's position".

She says: "They don't represent all businesses. There are many strong business voices who are looking forward to the freedoms that the UK will enjoy when it comes to coming out of the customs union - being free to set our own regulations when we're out of the single market."

Ms Fernandes adds: "I think what it comes down to is the fact that of course both sides want a great free trade agreement where we can continue our tariff free trade and commerce. Britain is a big customer of the European Union.

"But we also need to be clear, if that isn't possible then we have to be prepared for the WTO option which by no means is not a disaster."

Business groups 'are not helping the consumer'

Jacob Rees-Mogg
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Commenting on the letter from UK business group's to Brexit Secretary David Davis, Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg claims that the "arch-remoaners" such as the CBI are not representing the best interests of the consumer.

He tells LBC Radio that they want no change in trade terms for a transition period which means people will not enjoy the benefits of Brexit

"What I want to see happen is, out of the customs union, cutting duties on food, clothing and footwear because these three things are a disproportionate amount of the budgets of the poorest people in society.

"What seems to be happening at the moment is we've got people putting the producer first, putting the interests of everybody ahead of the consumer."

London shares treading water

There's still very little movement on the key FTSE 100 share index. A short while ago it was at 7,526.81, a tiny rise of about 4 points or 0.05%.

The FTSE 250, however, is still down slightly. It's at 20,122.60, up 24 points or 0.12%.